This quarter as part of Seattle Pacific University’s EDTC 6105 Educational Technology course, I investigated the question: “What leadership behaviors/ qualities matter most to be an effective coach? ”
My goal for this blog post is to look into leadership qualities that coaches should aim to acquire or reflect upon in order for them to be effective leaders and coaches within their school communities. Through research, my focus for this investigation was to cover the following ISTE Coaching Standards:
Standard 6: Content Knowledge and Professional Growth
b. Engage in continuous learning to deepen professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions in organizational change and leadership, project management, and adult learning to improve professional practice
c. Regularly evaluate and reflect on their professional practice and dispositions to improve and strengthen their ability to effectively model and facilitate technology-enhanced learning experiences
The Roles of a Leader
When beginning my research I thought about what a School Leader’s role within an institution would be defined as. I was pleasantly surprised when I found an article written by Bryan Goodwin that emphasizes not just one role a school leader could have, but four! (Goodwin, Pg 82-83) For many, becoming a leader in their school (though exciting) can be intimidating and uncertain of what is expected. Some find it easier than others to take on this new role and excel in their position. Below I have taken each of the four roles Goodwin mentions and researched different leadership qualities that would best fit each role.
Role 1: Visionary
Seeing new possibilities and inspiring others to pursue stretch goals.
This role reflects school leaders who are willing, enthusiastic, and goal-oriented. Coaches need to be willing to set goals and be a guide for educators to help scaffold them to their success. This also means that leaders are willing to put in the time and the effort needed to be an effective coach for their peers. Coaches should also be enthusiastic about hearing about what the educator wants to work on professionally and empower them to try new strategies or techniques in their classrooms. (Nussbaum-Beach, 2016) Lastly, being goal-oriented and making a plan on how the goals will be accomplished is essential to being an effective leader within your schools community.
Role 2: Learner
Modeling intellectual inquiry by reflecting on data and learning with teachers.
For this role, the emphasis on being reflective is very important. Other qualities that fit this role would be innovative, flexible, and honest. As a coach you want to make sure you are reflecting upon your practice and data, ensuring that your core beliefs are being communicated with clarity and concision. (Elias, 2016) You also want to ensure you are demonstrating innovative uses of technology that aligns with your school’s curriculum and appropriate pedagogy. (Nussbaum-Beach, 2016) Remember that each relationship you make with an educator will be personal and will require you to be flexible in order to meet them where they are and help guide them from there. This might mean that starting small and simple while allowing the educator and the coach to experience a new leadership style together might be best for the relationship. (Elias, 2016) Keep in mind that honesty is always the best policy when working collaboratively. This means you are giving honest feedback, advice, and support when needed in a kind and supportive manner. You may even emphasize how you would appreciate honest feedback on how you can better support them as well!
Role 3: Commander
Turning vision to action by aligning resources and accountability to goals.
Being accountable, resourceful, and resilient are three qualities that fit this role perfectly. Making sure as a coach that you are accountable can mean a variety of different actions. Some examples would be scheduling time to meet together, setting up a timeline to have a goal completed, and ensuring that if you told an educator you were going to do something, that you do it! Being resourceful is another quality that works well with the commander role. It is important to be able to provide an educator with resources such as connections, supportive documents, or even other educators that can help them grow. Educators appreciate these resources that can help them turn a vision into an action! (Goodwin, 2019) As a coach, also remember that sometimes plans don’t work out the way you thought they would and learning from our mistakes is dire for leaders to demonstrate their resilience and inspire other educators to try to work through their challenges/problems in order for them to grow professionally themselves!
Role 4: Connector
Creating a positive culture that empowers teachers to learn from each other.
In this role, qualities such as being optimistic, courageous, and collaborative are important behaviors for coaches to have and show. Being optimistic is important because it allows others the ability to see that their vision can come true and encourages them to continue working towards their goals. (Elias, 2016) By being optimistic you are also encouraging risk-taking and creativity within the classrooms. (Nussbaum-Beach, 2016) Having courage is another quality that leaders should demonstrate within their school communities. Whether your the first coach in your institution, or going against the status quo, having courage to put yourself out there and give it your all shows your determination and commitment to your profession and responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to try something new and embolden others while your at it! (Elias, 2016) Lastly, (and most importantly) remember that you are a team! Working collaboratively encourages others to step up and have their voices heard as well as encourages a trusting relationship where they can be open and feel comfortable working with another professional. Make sure to demonstrate kindness, empathy, and patience when working with another educator and/or coach, and never forget to think before you speak! It is much harder to move forward in your relationship once the trust has been broken.
Architect Innovative Leader
Goodwin goes on to explain that leaders are usually one or two of the roles described above, but the ultimate goal is to balance all four roles in which he calls, the architect. (Goodwin, 2019) Ideally architect leaders “work with teachers to develop a collaborative school vision and combines the best parts of the other leaders.” After doing additional research I believe another description of an Architect Leader would be considered an Innovative Leader. Below you will see a info-graphic from The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation that highlights quite a few of the behavioral traits/ learned behaviors I touched on today such as optimistic learner, feedback enthusiast, and so on. It is important for school leaders to see what is expected of them and different ways they can continue to build strong, long-lasting relationships with other peers at their schools.
Elias, Maurice J. (December 20, 2016). 6 Paths to Better Leadership. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/educators-improving-school-leadership-maurice-elias
Goodwin, Bryan. (March 2019). The Power of Instructional Leadership. Vol 76, No. 6, Pg 82-83. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar19/vol76/num06/The-Myth-of-the-Superhero-Leader.aspx
Nussbaum-Beach, Sheryl. (April 18, 2016). Are You a Future Ready Leader? Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/explore/ISTE-in-action/Are-you-a-future-ready-leader%3F
The Friday Institute for Education Innovation. (2018). Google Docs Presentation Slide “Innovative Leader”. Retrieved from The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation